Blog Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 14th September 2008: 

Tan Hoon Cheng makes ISA history – Syed Hamid acquires ISA infamy

Sin Chew senior journalist Tan Hoon Cheng makes Internal Security Act (ISA) history for being detained for the shortest period under the infamous detention-without-trial law – less than 20 hours!

She was detained in her Bukit Mertajam home on Friday, September 12, 2008 at 8.35 p.m and released at her Bukit Mertajam house at 4 p.m.

She spent the Friday night in the police lockup and the next morning was being taken down to Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur by car but U-turned at Ipoh to return to Penang as “instruction” came for her release.

All for a four-paragraph straight reporting of a speech by Umno Bukit Bendera division chairman Datuk Ahmad Ismail in the Permatang Pauh by-election ceramah on August 23 referring to the Chinese in Malaysia as “penumpang”!

Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar meanwhile acquired ISA infamy for his cynical, preposterous and contemptible explanation and justification for Tan Hoon Cheng’s arrest as well as those of Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamaruddin under the ISA.

Albar claimed that Tan was detained for her safety as the police believed her life was “under threat”.

I could imagine former Prime Minister who was also Home Minister for over a decade giving such a preposterous justification – which would be typical of what I had told Mahathir to his face in Parliament about “Mahathirish perverse illogic”.

But unlike Mahathir, Hamid is a trained lawyer! Hamid has brought the legal profession into grave disrepute with such preposterous reasoning!

Hamid said the police had acted according to law.

Can Hamid quote chapter and verse in the ISA to educate MPs and Malaysians as to when it was amended to include a new-fangled objective to protect journalists from physical “threat”?

But Hamid could not resist providing the real reason for her detention, as reported by Malaysiakini:

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar has implied that Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was also to be blamed for the public furore over the ‘Chinese squatter’ remark.

“The whole thing was started by her, (so) it was best that we talked to her,” Syed Hamid said in reply to a question during a press conference at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman today.

Asked to elaborate, Syed Hamid said the ripple effects from Tan’s article had caused “the polemic and fear” thus warranting investigations by the police.

“That information is from her and it was published. (Since) it has been published, it is best that we get to the bottom of it by getting the information from her.

With such a dumb explanation, Malaysians cannot be inspired by the confidence that the country has a good, steady, level-headed and solid Minister responsible for national security, law and order.

Here is another one of Hamid’s many dumb explanations in his pathetic attempt to justify the ISA arrests of Tan, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamaruddin:

On why Ahmad was not detained for making racist comments, he explained that Umno had already punished him by suspending him for three years and stripping him of his party posts.

Someone can start a hobby to collect these Hamid Albar “gems”!

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor